Abstract: The lecture will build to a large extent on the experience of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences over the past five years in promoting and supporting social science research in the Arab Region. As can be expected, the interests of researchers in the region show a great deal of diversity and local specificity in different countries and sub-regions. However there are certain glaring absences regarding both topics and approaches, especially in the light of the current events and violence pervading the region. A focus will be on some of these gaps in the literature, arguing that they cannot be explained only by state authoritarianism and clampdown on the freedom of speech but also by intellectual genealogies and legacies of nationalism as well as the power of various hegemonic social forces. The lecture will also consider the role of theorizing on the region by western scholarship in creating or augmenting certain elisions, especially concerning the study of religion and religious groups. Finally, some examples will be given concerning scholarship on certain groups in the region, discussing the contestations around the term “minorities” and the shaping of discourses concerning groups designated as such.
Dr Seteney Shami is an anthropologist from Jordan with degrees from the American University of Beirut and the UC Berkeley. She has been Visiting Professor at the latter institution, Georgetown University, University of Chicago and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study in the Social Sciences. She has been a consultant for UNICEF, ESCWA and the Ford Foundation. She is the Diretor of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences.
Bamyeh, Mohammed. 2015. Social Sciences in the Arab World: Forms of Presence (Beirut: Arab Council for the Social Sciences) download at http://www.theacss.org/uploads/English-ASSR-2016.pdf
- Hanafi, Sari and Rigas Arvanitis. 2016. Knowledge Production in the Arab World: the impossible promise. London and New York: Routledge
Shami, Seteney and Cynthia Miller-Idriss, eds. 2016. Middle East Studies for the New Millennium: Infrastructures of Knowledge. SSRC and NYU Press
Shami, Seteney. 2009. “‘Aqaliyya/Minority in Modern Egyptian Discourse” pp. 151-173 In Carol Gluck and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, eds. Words in Motion: Toward a Global Lexicon. Durham: Duke University Press
Shami, Seteney. 1998. “Circassian Encounters: The Self as Other and the Production of the Homeland in the North Caucasus” Development and Change, 29 (4) October pp 617-646
- Shami, Seteney and Nefissa Naguib. 2013. “Occluding Difference: Ethnic Identity and the Shifting Zones of Theory on the Middle East and North Africa” In S. Hafez and S. Slyomovics eds., Anthropology of the Middle East and North Africa: State of the Art. Bloomington: Indiana University Press